The SUNY Cortland Performing Arts Department will present four performances from two wildly different pieces in “Oedipus Back-to-Back” at the Lab Theatre in Dowd Fine Arts Center from Thursday, May 5, to Sunday, May 8.
The show’s first half will consist of the classic Greek tragedy, “Oedipus the King, believed to be the world’s first detective story. A farce, titled “Cocoanut Soup at the Palace,” or “If the Marx Brothers Had Performed Oedipus the King,” will follow.
The Thursday to Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m. The Sunday performance starts at 2 p.m. Tickets, available at the door only, cost $12 for the general public, $10 for senior citizens and SUNY staff, and $5 for all students.
Directed by SUNY Cortland Professor of Performing Arts Thomas Hischak, “Oedipus the King” will be presented in a new prose adaptation by Hischak that follows the script of Sophocles’ classic drama.
The play tells the story of the proud-willed Oedipus, performed by Ricky Wenthen, who sets out to find the murderer of the old king, not realizing that he, in fact, is the culprit. In his pursuit of the truth, Oedipus discovers his own past and how fate has doomed his entire family, including his wife, Jocasta. Samantha Rey acts in that role.
“Cocoanut Soup at the Palace” will retell the famous story of Oedipus as only the clownish Marx Brothers can. Broadway’s celebrated brothers retell the Oedipus legend in their own unique way, with Groucho acting as a wisecracking king. Italian-accented Chico and the silent Harpo join Groucho in an attempt to harass the matronly Margaret Dumont and everyone else in the kingdom. The role of Groucho is performed by Charles O’Connor; that of Chico by Andrew Kohn; Harpo, by Mike Meaney; and Margaret Dumont by Annali Fuchs.
Hischak wrote the comedy and first produced it at SUNY Cortland in 1996. The play was published and presented in theatres across the country.
Hischak, a Fulbright scholar and past recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, directs both plays. Scenic design is by Howard Lindh, lights by Derek Mellor and Joel Pape and costumes by Joey Gugliemelli and Kate Quigley.